OMAHA, Neb. (CenturyLink Center) -- Bemidji State University goaltender Dan Bakala (Sr., Calgary, Alberta) turned a side 37 University of Nebraska-Omaha shots and held the Mavericks scoreless for 56:20, but agoal by Bryce Aneloski late in the third period forced overtime. Scoreless in overtime, the teams settled for a 1-1 tie and split Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) points at CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.
In typical Beaver hockey fashion, Bemidji State lead heavily on defense and penalty-kill play.
Bakala, who was back in net tonight after sitting out to injury Jan. 28, made saves on 37 of 38 shots faced and came up with game-saving stops on several occasions. In addition he backstopped a Bemidji State penalty-kill unit that held the Mavericks scoreless on six power-play opportunities and climb to second in the WCHA in penalty-killing efficiencies and .852 (69-of-81).
Penalties littered the first period setting Nebraska-Omaha up with three power-play opportunities, which included 1:23 of 5-on-3 play, and the Beavers with two chances on the man advantage.
With little offensive pressure during the final eight minutes of the period, Bakala kept the Beavers in the game making two point-blank stops and totaling 10 saves during the first 20 minutes. The Beavers and Mavericks skated into the first intermission locked in a 0-0 tie.
Bemidji State opened the second period with a spark gaining an 1-0 edge just 54 seconds into the period. Radoslav Illo’s (So., F, Bystrica, Slovakia) buried a wrist shot, his seventh of the season, through traffic beating the UNO goaltender Ryan Massa high glove side. Shea Walters (Sr., Hibbing, Minn.) and Brad Hunt (Sr., D, Ridge Meadows, British Columbia) were credited with assists on the play.
The helper gave Hunt a team-best 14 on the season, while it put an end to the longest scoring drought of the senior’s career at seven games.
The Beavers would hold the one-goal lead through the second period and deep into the third. UNO, which out shot BSU 38-28 in the game and 12-9 in the third period, ramped up its offensive pressure in the third and began to swing momentum in its favor.
Bakala held the Mavericks scoreless into the final four minutes of the game, but Nebraska-Omaha broke through to knot the score at 1-1 with 3:40 to play. Bryce Aneloski took passes from Jaycob Megna and Brent Gwidt and fired a shot that trickled across the goalline.
The late UNO goal pushed the game to overtime.
The teams each registered two shots on goal in overtime, but it was BSU that generated the best scoring opportunities in the sudden death period. With 3:18 left, the Beavers cycled the puck to Jake Areshenko (D, Port Coquitlan, British Columbia) on the point. The junior unloaded a slap shot that rang off the post and caromed toward David Boehm (Jr., F, Naples, Fla.) on the doorstep, but Massa covered the puck to end BSU’s best chance.
UNO’s Massa moved 5-3-2 on the season after allowing one goal and making 27 saves.
Bakala’s 37-save performance marked the seventh time in 11 appearances versus Nebraska-Omaha, the goaltender has totaled more than 30 saves. He is now 6-2-3 all-time versus UNO and 6-7-2 in 2012.
BSU was flawless on the penalty-kill, but struggled to get its power-play unit going. The Beavers failed to score on its three man advantage opportunities (0-for-3).
The stalemate leaves the all-time BSU/UNO series tied 6-6-3, while Bemidji State is 5-1-2 in the last eight meetings between the teams.
BSU is now 4-5-2 all-time in Omaha, Neb., but is unbeaten last four trips to CenturyLink Center (3-0-1).
Bemidji State (12-12-3; 6-10-3 WCHA) and University of Nebraska-Omaha (12-10-5; 9-6-4 WCHA) wrap up the series tomorrow. The opening face off is set for 7:07 p.m. at CenturyLink Center Omaha.